How does a state preserve more than a million acres of open space without adequate funding? One New Jersey lawmaker is suggesting installing slot machines at racetracks to generate revenue.

(Fernando Camino, Getty Images)

The NJ Department Of Environmental Protection has identified more than one million acres of open space and farmland in the Garden State that need to be preserved, but the fund the state would use to pay for preservation efforts is empty. To replenish the funds without raising taxes or diverting existing funds, Dancer is suggesting that slot machines be installed at horse tracks in the state.

"No one wants to pay more taxes and legislators don't want to raise taxes," Dancer said. "I have legislation that will provide a new and sustainable source of funding for open space and it can be done without raising taxes."

Under the bill, casinos could place slot machines at Garden State racetracks after reaching a mutually beneficial agreement that also dedicates a portion of the revenue to the state's Open Space Preservation Trust Fund.

"This is like hitting the trifecta and the three winners are the casinos, the racetracks and open space," Dancer said.

If the bill is approved by the full legislature and signed by the governor, it couldn't be enacted without amending the State Constitution. Dancer is also sponsoring a resolution that would place a question on the ballot asking voters if they support his bill and want to see it implemented.

"Now, thousands of people are just crossing the border every single day to play the slots in New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware and we could capture that money, keep it in the state of New Jersey, (and) preserve open space without raising taxes," Dancer said.